OSX upgrade to OSX Server: Headache free?
September 18, 2008 4:55 AM   Subscribe

I will be upgrading a MacPro running 10.4.11 to 10.4.11 Server. What, if anything, could go wrong?

My company has a MacPro file server with a client version of Tiger running. As the number of employees has grown that need to get and place files, we often run into the 10 user limit imposed by Apple's client OS, hence the update to Server. There are some other advantages to this as well, but the unlimited clients and connections is the main plus for us. I have a few questions about this, the answers to which I could not find out in the tubes. This either means that it is a relatively painless process, or I'm not using the right search terms.

1. Will the user accounts remain untouched? The accounts themselves will probably remain okay, but what about user preferences? Finder? Other Apps?

2. Will people that connect to the server have to recreate the aliases they use to do so? Not much of a big deal but it'll be nice to know what to expect on Monday morning when my phone's ringing and people are complaining that they can't connect to the server.

3. Are there any other changes that I'm not thinking of that might cause a headache after I update?

Note: we are staying with Tiger because of a change in the way Leopard handles text encoding in applescript which would cause all of our scripts to break. The time it would take to rewrite them all would be huge.
posted by chillmost to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
Despite Apple having instructions for doing this, I don't recommend it. While they share a similar code base Tiger client and Tiger Server are very different beasts. You're much better off trying to manually replicate the services on the Mac OS X Server install after having installed it cleanly.

Of course, make a .dmg backup (or any kind of backup you want) of the Tiger client install on the MacPro before installing Tiger Server on it.

Yes it's extra work, but you'll end up with a more stable and reliable server in the end. To answer your questions specfically:

1) I'm assuming you simply have 10 local users on the Mac Pro and each one has a home folder, and these are the "user preferences" that you're referring to. You could quite simply recreate each of these local users on the new Mac OS X Server and copy each user's local home folder into the appropriate home folder created on the OS X Server.

You're going to have to decide which "directory" you want these users stored in: the default local NetInfo directory, or the Open Directory (LDAPv3) provided by OS X Server. Most server admins choose OD rather than cluttering up their server's local NetInfo directory wit user accounts....so there's just one or two local admin accounts and all the regular users get put into the Open Directory instead.

2) Aliases likely won't resolve, but they are relatively easy to re-create on the client's workstations.

3) The biggest issue here is that being a system admin for OS X Server is quite different from being a system admin for a workstation where personal file sharing has been turned on. I recommend you pick up the 10.4 Server Essentials book and read the first few chapters (and the filesharing chapter).
posted by mrbarrett.com at 6:04 AM on September 18, 2008

Backup all of your files, as a DMG, document the shares and settings as you want them to appear to the users again in the end.

Then you are going to be doing a wipe and reformat of the drive. I have never done server upgrades, even from 10.4 -> 10.5 (I've seen the 10.5 upgrade nuke an entire folder and replace it with a symlink), just backed up the configuration, reinstalled, and reconfigured. The side result of this is you have now created a disaster recovery plan, if you have kept your backup of the configuration up to date, you get a new server up and running quickly in case of theft, etc.

In terms of users preferences, all of those are stored on their local workstation, and have nothing to do with what is setup on the server. The accounts on the server just pertain to files access and the permissions to access the shared files. (So a users desktop background or finder preferences will not change).

For general config, partition the drive (or since it is a mac pro, just add another sata drive) so you have a Boot volume that just stores the system configurations, and the Data volume, which holds the user home folders, the shared files, and all of the 'dynamic' content. That way you can focusing on backing up one volume, if you have to tear down and rebuild a server, you can just focus on the "boot" part of it, knowing your data partition is not involved (I would setup a software raid 1 for the data partition if you could spare the extra drive).

Assign the box a static IP address, you are probably not going to want to use Open Directory, just use local accounts (open directory does stuff like let you have users accounts follow them from computer to computer).

And get working on your applescripts to update the new text handling, I don't know what specifically is broken in applescript 2.0 (change list is here) in your workflow, but still start working on it. Because I have gotten too many calls from customers who were in your situation that had a mission critical workflow built around EOLed technology, asking if I had a box that could still run classic because their production has shut down when their old one broke. And sometimes you might find new solutions or scripts that solve the problem that didn't exist when the script was first written.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:04 AM on September 18, 2008

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